Case Study: How Garrett went from working for free to charging $250 an hour

Ramit Sethi

How many of us have heard “experts” warning us to NEVER work for free?

“Don’t do it!” they shout. “Working for free completely devalues your work.”

This is nonsense. Working for free can help you close bigger deals than you ever thought possible when you do it strategically.

You go from FREE to FEE on a very clear, step-by-step process, not a haphazard strategy of spray and pray.

This is how I went from charging $20/hour to $1,500/hour.

It’s also how many of my Earn1K students’ hourly rates have soared to over $100/hour.

Today, let’s take a look at Garrett’s story — including how he used specific techniques to grow his side income.

“I didn’t fit in with any of them.”

Garrett never was the 9-to-5 type. Throughout the start of his career, he was always searching for something more meaningful.

“I worked so many different jobs when I was young,” Garrett recalls of his experiences with typical office jobs. “I didn’t fit in with any of them. I couldn’t understand how people could keep it up. It seemed so fake how people related to each other.”

This independent streak lead Garrett through a variety of jobs. He tutored, he gardened, he designed websites, he practiced massage therapy. Eventually he created a niche for himself writing hundreds of articles for local businesses and online media companies. But while he enjoyed the freedom that came with his work, he still wanted more.

That’s when Garrett discovered Radical Undoing, a system of meditations and exercises designed to interrupt the habitual ways you respond to events. He was hooked from the start.

“I gave free sessions to everyone!”

Garrett completed Radical Undoing workshops and immediately jumped into sharing what he had learned. “I gave free sessions to everyone! People I knew, people I met on the street, friends of friends.”

Soon enough, Garrett knew he wanted to turn this passion into a career. “I started selling sessions to people. Then I held workshops. It was pay whatever you want. I mean, I just wanted to do it.” Garrett knew from all of the positive feedback that he’d received that his business could work. He just didn’t know how.

After years of struggling, Garrett’s new business — formally christened as CommandZ ( — made it’s way online. Garrett and his business partner created a newsletter and built an email list. They created an online course and added streaming video. Even with all this, CommandZ underperformed and Garrett had to rely on his article writing and website design to pay the bills.

He knew he needed some help. That’s when he stumbled across Ramit’s Find Your First Profitable Idea ebook.

“I made $1,000 in 30 days just using Ramit’s free material.”

Garrett finished Ramit’s ebook feeling validated and re-engerized. “It was great to know we already had a good idea. We realized we were already ahead of the game.”

From there, Garrett dove into Ramit’s free 30-day hustling course and 1-week MBA on earning more money. A fellow psychology buff, Garrett loved Ramit’s 60-minute Master Class on social psychology and persuasion with Stanford psychologist BJ Fogg. He put Ramit’s free lessons to use and made $1,000 in a month.

At that point, he knew he needed to enroll in Earn1K.

“Oh man, I was so stoked,” said Garrett. “Look at everything Ramit’s giving away in that course! Even the Master Classes alone. There’s so much material in each one. I really loved Noah Kagan’s Master Class. He was hilarious and very frank.”

Not one sit around, Garrett put one of Noah’s tips to the test right away. “Noah doesn’t use a resume. If he wants to work with a business, he just calls them up directly.” Garrett applied that approach to his next writing project, got his foot in the door, blew them away with this sample work and ended up getting paid $300 per article — six times more than he was used to.

Thrilled with his results, Garrett applied the lessons to CommandZ.

Rebuilding a business

“Based on what we learned in Earn1K, we changed the website around right away,” Garrett said. He added a registration page to his website. “That change got us more subscribers, more phone calls, more people ready to sign up.”

With more prospects in the pipeline, Garrett could turn his attention to his biggest concern: pricing.

From the early days of his business, Garrett had learned that charging too little — in his case, nothing — can actually hurt sales. Just upping his price by $20, Garrett acknowledged, would have meant not only more money per client but more clients total. He didn’t want to make the same mistake. When he started Earn1K, he was charging $100 for an hour-long, online session. He knew that was still low, but how much were his services really worth?

Garrett dove into his notes from the course. Armed with tactics from Ramit’s 24-minute video (and accompanying worksheets) on how to build your prospect’s trust, Garrett restructured his sales process to allow him to score small wins right away with his prospects.

“We really listen to them. Like they’ve never been listened to before. And we ask the right questions. We show how we can really deliver value, even on that first phone call.” The pay off? Proving their value upfront has allowed Garrett and his business partner to raise their rates from $100 and hour to $250. And the price for a face-to-face session is even more.

“We had so much going for us, and we couldn’t see it.”

From package plans to one-on-one retreats, now Garrett sees even more opportunities to raise the value of his services — and the price. In the meantime, word of mouth about his company continues to grow.

“Earn1K is like having a mentor.”

Garrett isn’t done with Earn1K yet.

“I’ll go through the course again and get even more out of it the second time,” said Garrett. “There’s just so much material. Earn1K is like having a mentor. And it helps you use the skills you have, maybe even skills you didn’t even know you had. I found out I have more skills than I thought. Skills that people find valuable.”

Up next for Garrett and CommandZ? Building out his sales funnel and more price testing.

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  1. STRONGside

    Having a mentor is key in a business start-up. Anyone can show you how to look at the small details and focus on the immediate problems you might be facing. A mentor however, will challenge you, and help you to see the big picture for your business. A mentor will also tell you the hard truth and not be afraid to challenge you and to test your knowledge and business savvy.

  2. Al Pittampalli

    Free is one of the best sales strategy available. Bain & Company, one of the top consulting companies in the world, grew so quickly early on because they offered to do much initial work for free in order to prove themselves to clients. Once they did, they were able to demand a huge premium and build massive trust in the process.

  3. Tandblekning

    You may look at it as a good investment, potential clients or long-term connections. It’s best to make use of our skills wisely, but sometimes by being generous we generate more business leads.